Following weeks of anti-government demonstrations across Yemen, embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to resign on Saturday, but only if the opposition agrees to grant him, his regime, and his family immunity. The deal also reportedly stipulates that Saleh leave office within 30 days, and it calls for a unity government to be formed within seven days of Saleh’s exit. The opposition said it could not guarantee at least one of Saleh’s demands — that demonstrations be halted — and opposition members said they would present a counteroffer to the president later Saturday. Even if the opposition and the government agree to a deal, it is unclear whether the demonstrations will cease, especially after pro-government snipers killed 52 protesters earlier this month.
According to the New York Times, “Mr. Saleh is a wily political survivor,” and it’s possible he’s negotiating only to “shift blame for a stalemate to the opposition.” A Yemini official said a bloc of six Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, has been working to broker negotiations between Saleh and the opposition, but a member of the Gulf council said it had presented only a framework for a political solution. An ally of the United States in its efforts to fight al Qaeda, Saleh has been in power for thirty-two years.